UPDATE: A Delaware man was sentenced in federal court in Philadelphia on Monday to 35 years in prison for running a multi-state sex trafficking operation that brutally victimized vulnerable young women and underage girls for years.
From 2012 to 2017, Dkyle Bridges, 35, of Claymont, and two accomplices preyed on mostly homeless victims in southeastern Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and elsewhere who “needed financial and emotional support in their lives,” Deputy United States Attorney Louis D. Lappen said.
Bridges lured victims “into the trafficking circle with false promises of that kind of support and then subjected them to violence – as well as fear of violence -- by making them watch him assault other trafficking victims,” Lappen said.
The assaults included “pouring water over them to keep them awake, choking them, and otherwise physically assaulting them,” the U.S. attorney said. “On at least one occasion, he tased his victim in the chest.”
Bridges advertised on Backpage.com, which the FBI has since shut down for its role in advertising and promoting sex trafficking, Lappen said.
Co-defendants Kristian and Anthony Jones, among others, “assisted Bridges in various capacities in running the sex trafficking operation, including by recruiting and transporting victims, collecting money, and paying for hotel rooms,” the U.S. attorney said.
Authorities uncovered the operation after a Tinicum police officer stopped a vehicle that recently left a hotel frequented by prostitutes and johns.
Officers went to the room the driver used and found Kristian Jones, two underage girls, condoms, and cell phones with communications with Bridges about the business. Anthony Jones had rented the room, authorities said.
That same month, an officer posing as a client set up a date at a Newark, DE hotel and found one of the underage victims.
Philadelphia police set up a similar sting and found Bridges waiting in a car outside a hotel the trio had been using.
Jurors in Philadelphia found all three guilty in February 2019 of conspiring to engage in sex trafficking by force, fraud or coercion with adults and minors and sex trafficking minors by force, fraud or coercion following a two-week trial.
Bridges was also convicted of sex trafficking adults by force, fraud or coercion.
Kristian and Anthony Jones are scheduled to be sentenced later this year.
They and Bridges must serve out nearly all of their terms because there’s no parole in the federal prison system.
The 35 years given to Bridges by U.S. District Court Judge Nitza I. Alejandro-Quiñones on Monday “reflects the seriousness of his crimes and the irrevocable damage he caused, all in pursuit of financial gain,” Lappen said.
In addition to the prison term, the judge sentenced Bridges to 10 years of supervised release and $53,000 in restitution payments to his victims, the judge ruled.
The FBI investigated the case, assisted by police from Tinicum Township and Newark, DE, Delaware State Police, the Delaware River Bay Authority and the Philadelphia Police Department, Lappen said.
The verdicts and sentence were secured by Department of Justice Trial Attorney Jessica Urban and Assistant U.S. Attorney Priya T. De Souza of his office, he said.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.